Facebook keeps telling me I should share memories from my timeline. Some of them are pretty cool, some less so, but it’s got me thinking back on things.
For instance, 2 years ago this month, I handed in my notice at my last consulting job. In the lead-up to that point, I was a mess. I was barely sleeping, eating terribly, I had difficulties walking and thanks to a 60 hr week I barely had time to socialise. I’d crash into bed on Friday, wake up with no energy on Saturday (so spend most of the day indoors), get to Sunday and have to either get some work done for Monday, or have to catch up with all the other things I had to do ready for the week ahead. Quitting though was still a surprisingly hard decision.
“If you apply yourself, you could be a really great senior manager…”
Coming back after the holidays, I’d resolved to stick to 40hrs a week, which failed within days. Late one Friday, my boss told me I wouldn’t make the next grade, but if I applied myself, I’d make a great senior manager in the next round. I already hated what I’d let that job do to me, so the idea of having to double-down on it to make the next grade was just horrifying.
Switching over, the next job was a bizarre change of pace. I had evenings again, and no work to do at the weekends. I started pitching around for stuff I could do. I’d already started knitting as a way to manage stress, so I worked on trying to do some more creative things (some of which worked, some didn’t). I did some paper crafting, even managed to make myself a Han Solo costume.
Despite all this “recovery”, I still had a small voice in the back of my mind – a tiny scumbag voice that spent its time making me feel horrible about myself (and still tries/does on occasion). The pitching around doing random things didn’t do much to address health issues, and didn’t really do much to deal with the perennial enquiries. Helpful bits of advice was forthcoming… stuff like “If you lost some weight, then you’d be able to find someone” was great fodder for the scumbag voice.
Fast-forward a bit to January 2015, I was at a low ebb. I’d decided to stop taking some medication I was being prescribed for joint issues, and I’d moved into (what is to be honest) a fairly crappy flat in Hackney. I’d practically ruined Christmas for the whole family by being a miserable bastard the whole way through (I contend now that was largely a side-effect of coming off the medication). The scumbag voice pretty much called the shots. It kept telling me I shouldn’t bother my friends with my problems, that going to them was dumping my stuff on theirs and would make me a bad friend.
My therapist had suggested I look around for improv classes during our sessions. She’d suggested it’d be a useful mindfulness-type technique. I ended up booking one after a drunken evening online (“wtf lol you’re going to look like an idiot” was what the scumbag had to offer), and attended my first in early February. Something where you had to be present and in the moment, and where messing up is seen as an opportunity. It was pretty much the antithesis of the old “consultant” thing of hedging and risk assessment, and it forced you to say to the scumbag voice “I’m too busy doing this thing… bother me later”.
That led to a bit of self-therapy where I started keeping a diary, where I’d track positive events in green, so if the scumbag ever resurfaced, I could re-read it and the positive stuff would jump off the page to tell it to go screw itself.
That bit of self-actualisation took a bit of a back seat to recovering from a broken leg over the summer (I rather foolishly got knocked down by a taxi). Still, I came back and dove into things again (with the support of an awesome group of classmates and a cracking teacher in Maria Peters).
My take-away from it is to try and be open to new opportunities when they present themselves, and committing honestly to them. Whilst it may be scary at times, the alternative is just as bad, and in many cases worse… I’m reminded of what Amy Poehler said (Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls: Ask Amy):
“Opening your heart and being courageous and telling people that you care about them or like them or that you think they’re special only makes you a better, bigger, kinder, softer, more loving person and only attracts more love in your life”
So, in summary… go f**k yourself, scumbag voice. I’m me. I enjoy dressing like I’m from the 1940s, I’m confused by romantic (and beyond) relationships and I don’t care for sports. I’m going to screw up, and people will laugh at me. They (like you) are ass-hats, and no longer interest me. The people I’m interested are the ones who’ll be there to step into the scene with me (and for whom I can do the same). They’re the ones I want to play with. Not you.
Funny what a reminder about a throw-away post two years ago can bring out of you…
P.S – If you’ve read this far (kudos to you on that), I’m not fishing for “you can always call me”/”I’m there if you need me” or comments along those lines (welcome though they are). I’m trying to get this stuff out of my head, and pleading emails from WordPress to actually use this page were getting to me.